52 ideas that changed the world: 26. Artificial intelligence


In this series, The Week looks at the ideas and innovations that permanently changed the way we see the world. Artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes referred to as machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence of humans. AI is the ability of a computer program or a machine to think and learn, so that it can work on its own without being encoded with commands. The term was first coined by American computer scientist John McCarthy in 1955. Human intelligence is "the combination of many diverse abilities", says Encyclopaedia Britannica.